Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Ingmar - a round dozen

My friend Mike in San Francisco (my oldest pal, we were penfriends when we were 17 - what people did before the internet and Facebook) and I have been ruminating on Ingmar Bergman films. Hard to believe now but when I was first in London, aged 18 in 1964, we went to a screening of Bergman's THE SILENCE, an arthouse hit then (which we followed by going to see the routine THE CHALK GARDEN). 
It seems inpossible now that teenagers would go and see a sombre black and white Swedish film with sub-titles, but back then arthouse movies were part of the general movie scene, with several crossover hits and every reasonable size city had one or two for the trendy folk to go to. (There was a more exotic or erotic arthouse cinemas for those looking for something more explicit than what the local Odeon or ABC served up..."the dirty mac brigade").  Of course there were less distractions then, just 2 television channels here in the UK, in black and white; no internet or cellphones. Mike was saying his students would not even watch an old Greta Garbo movie now. 
Of course THE SEVENTH SEAL was stunning on a first view, we had seen nothing like it, as it later became an arthouse cliche, and his lovely film of Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE is still a perfect opera film. 
Anyway to Bergman, a list of my favourites:
Theres also the early SUMMER WITH MONIKA, and THE VIRGIN SPRING, THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY, WINTER LIGHT and those unsparing Liv Ullmann dramas FACE TO FACE and SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. I have not seen the 1964 comedy NOW ABOUT THESE WOMEN, or the later THE SERPENT’S EGG.

Bergman (1918-2007) directed a total of 67 films, and died on the same day as Michelangelo Antonioni – which was quite a surprise for us in 2007, but the movies go on and continue to resonate with us. 
We were also fascinated by his troupe of actresses: Thulin, Lindblom, Ullmann, Bibi and Harriet Andersson, Eva Dahlbeck ... and Ingrid having a late career swansong with that SONATA. 
I went twice to his 1970 London theatre production of HEDDA GABLER - a very intense staging with actors in black on a red stage (rather like CRIES & WHISPERS) - with Maggie Smith (right) giving one of her best stage performances. 
I have written more on some of these at Bergman label, but must return to them and review some more over the winter months. (Above, the two Bergmans on AUTUMN SONATA). 


  1. Earlier I said I didn't see enough of Ingmar's films to compile a list but seeing yours I realized I have seen all of these and more so perhaps I have seen a lot more of his work than I thought. I know I haven't seen many of his very early ones but I have seen most of the later films so maybe I will compile my own list.

  2. Oh, and FANNY AND ALEXANDER would top it.

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